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Home arrow Return to Table of Contents: Sources of Financial Assistance for Historic Preservation Projects arrow Federal Financial Assistance Specifically for Historic Preservation—General
Federal Financial Assistance Specifically for Historic Preservation—General

Save America's Treasures Grants
Transportation Enhancements Funding
Transit Enhancements Funding
National Scenic Byways Grants
Farmland Protection Program
National Center for Preservation, Technology, and Training Grants

Preserve America Grants
Federal Agency: National Park Service
Recipients: Preserve America Communities; Certified Local Governments in the process of applying for Preserve America Community designation; State Historic Preservation Offices; and Tribal Historic Preservation Offices

Preserve America Grants supports economic and educational opportunities related to heritage tourism. The program does not fund "bricks-and-mortar" projects, but rather supports planning, marketing, research, training, and interpretation. The minimum matching grant is $20,000, and the maximum matching grant is $250,000. State and Tribal Historic Preservation Offices may apply for funds that they in turn propose to subgrant to communities. In FY 2008, $10 million is available for Preserve America Grants.

Local communities must be a designated Preserve America Community in order to be eligible to apply, unless they are a Certified Local Government that is in the process of applying for such designation. For more information on becoming a Preserve America Community, visit

Save America's Treasures Grants
Federal Agencies: National Park Service and National Endowment for the Arts
Recipients: Department of Interior agencies and related agencies; Indian tribes; State and local governments; non-profit organizations

Since its creation in 1999 in recognition of the approaching new millennium, the Save America's Treasures program has provided $265 million for preservation of historic properties and cultural artifacts. Historic properties receiving funds must be nationally significant and be threatened, endangered, or otherwise demonstrate an urgent preservation need.

The program has funded projects at properties ranging from the cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde, to buildings on Ellis Island, to San Juan's El Morro fortress.

Funded by the Federal Historic Preservation Fund and administered by the National Park Service (NPS) in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts, the grants require a dollar-for-dollar non-Federal match. The maximum grant is $1 million, and the minimum is $250,000 for historic property projects and $50,000 for cultural artifact projects. In FY 2008, the program is funded at $25 million.

Transportation Enhancements Funding
Federal Agency: Federal Highway Administration
Recipients: State Transportation Departments

In the 1990s, funding for surface transportation development in this country changed significantly with passage of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) and its successor, the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) and the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act (SAFETEA-LU). These laws placed new emphasis on giving States and communities flexibility to address environmental and quality of life issues, and a lynchpin in this shift was the creation of dedicated funding for "transportation enhancements."

Ten percent of Federal Surface Transportation Program funds are set aside to fund transportation enhancement projects in 12 categories. This has opened up a huge new source of funding for preservation, since these categories include purchase of easements on historic properties, rehabilitation of historic buildings, landscaping in historic areas, archeological planning and research, and scenic or historic highway programs. Projects must relate to surface transportation.

Transportation enhancements funding is administered by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). Between 1992 and 2005, more than $7.1 billion in transportation enhancements money was made available. Within the basic framework of the program, each State decides how it will (or will not) use that funding, and States do not have to spend the transportation enhancement dollars available to them. From 1992-2005, over $1.1 billion was used for historical and archeological projects, making transportation enhancement funding one of the largest pools of federal money for historic preservation.

Transit Enhancements Funding
Federal Agency: Federal Transit Administration
Recipients: Designated public bodies representing urbanized areas with populations over 200,000

SAFETEA-LU also requires that recipients of Federal mass transit funding in urbanized areas with a population of more than 200,000 certify that they will expend one percent of the funds for transit enhancements. The funding is part of the Urbanized Area Formula Program of the Federal Transit Administration.

Eligible enhancements include historic preservation, rehabilitation, and operation of historic mass transportation buildings, structures, and facilities (including historic bus and railroad facilities). Projects must be designed to enhance mass transportation service or use and be physically or functionally related to transit facilities.

In FY 2006, almost $1.4 million from this program was obligated for historic mass transit buildings.

National Scenic Byways Grants
Federal Agency: Federal Highway Administration
Recipients: State Departments of Transportation and Indian Tribes

First created by ISTEA and extended by TEA-21 and SAFETEA-LU, the National Scenic Byways Program provides technical and financial assistance to help preserve America's scenic roads and promote tourism and economic development. FHWA administers the program and designates roads as National Scenic Byways and All-America Roads, the best of the National Scenic Byways.

National Scenic Byways may be recognized not only for their intrinsic natural, scenic, and recreational qualities, but also for their historic, cultural, and archeological resources. Grants are available to assist States and Tribes in implementing projects on National Scenic Byways, All-America Roads, and State and Tribal scenic byways. Projects that protect historic resources are eligible for grant funding. In FY 2008, $40 million is available.

Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program
Federal Agency: Natural Resources Conservation Service
Recipients: State, tribal, or local governments and non-governmental organizations that have existing farmland protection programs

Through the Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program, the Federal Government assists States, tribes, local governments, and non-governmental organizations in purchasing conservation easements on farm and ranch land to limit its conversion to non-agricultural use.

The Farm Security and Rural Investment Act, the so-called "Farm Bill," that was signed by President Bush May 13, 2002, extended this program to include farms or ranches containing historical and archeological resources.

Previously, farms had to meet certain soil criteria to be eligible for the program. Now, the presence of historic properties on agricultural lands and a plan to protect those resources offers another alternative for using the program. The Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program will pay up to 50 percent of the cost of purchasing a conservation easement or other interest in the land. In FY 2007, more than $48 million was available.

National Center for Preservation, Technology, and Training Grants
Federal Agency: National Park Service
Recipients: Colleges and universities; non-profit organizations; Federal, State, local, and tribal governments

The National Center for Preservation, Technology, and Training, an NPS organization, offers competitive matching grants for preservation research, information management, and training projects. In FY 2007, over $350,000 was awarded.

Updated May 16, 2008

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